I love the mystique of the sailor. I was reminded of this noble life by reading Tai-Pan, the great novel by James Clavell. Here is a choice excerpt:

A ship was charging through the east channel in full sail. Her free-lifting square sails and gallants and royals were swelling to leeward, cut into rotund patterns by the buntlines and leach lines, her taut rigging straining and singing against the quickening wind. The rake-masted Clipper was on the lee tack on a broad reach and her bow wave flew upward, her gunnel awash, and above the froth of her wake—white against the green-blue ocean—sea gulls cried their welcome.

Just beautiful.

It’s a world that’s removed from us. Today’s journey is centered on freeways, Iphones, and the drive thru line at Starbucks. Amazon, Instagram, and Snapchat. What do we know of bunt lines, lee tacks, or gunnels? And yet, it’s a world that planted the seeds of America—ocean discovery. It was the sailor, intrepid in his spirit, that forged the open ocean. It was the sailor that landed on the savage lands of America, bringing civilization to the teeming forest. It was the sailor that planted the seeds of adventure in the American spirit.

We owe so much to the ancient sailors—their courage can teach us to dream bigger, to reach higher. The sailor is a role model to the modern man.

2 thoughts on “In Praise of the Noble Sailor

  1. Nice story, you might be interested in the book by Dava Sobel, Longitude. It’s the story of the search for a method to measure longitude at sea from the 17th to 18th century and the political battle between the chronometer and the astronomical methods.

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